How To Make
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Create Your Winning Entry Level Resume

Create Your Winning Entry Level Resume

The entry level resume presents quite a dilemma for an entry level job seeker.

How many times have you seen advertisements for jobs that include "Experience" as a requirement?


You must not get discouraged, thinking you cannot get a job just because your entry level resume does not meet one particular element of an ad. You may have more to offer a company than you realize.

While there certainly are jobs that will not be filled by people whose entry level resume does not meet every item on the advertisement, you must get inside the employer's head, and realize a couple of very important points.

  • An employer's ad represents his ideal employee - this is what he WANTS
  • No company is fully staffed with ideal employees - they do NOT always get what they WANT

Employer's Have Problems, Too

Employers face some practical problems.

  • Labor Market Inefficiencies
    • The labor market is sometimes short of qualified candidates
    • Some qualified candidates are not appropriate
    • Some qualified candidates are not affordable
  • Timing
    • Some qualified candidates may not be available at the right time
    • The employer's need is sometimes critical, and the cost to the business of not having an employee in place at the time of need can outweigh the need for the employee with the "perfect" entry level resume.
  • Geography
    • Qualified, affordable candidates may not be in the job market area.
  • Money
    • The employee with the "perfect" entry level resume may be too expensive. Employers want the best they can afford. They are just like you, however. They have limited bank accounts, too.
When hiring, the employer has to decide whether the costs of keeping the position open, hoping for that perfect entry level resume are worth the productivity losses he incurs by having the position vacant.

Many times, the cost of waiting for the perfect employee outweighs the benefit. He may come to the conclusion he can train some aspects of the job more easily than he can halt production.


There ARE solutions to your entry level resume dilemma
that a well written resume can reslove

Every person employed by any company was inexperienced at some time. Just because your entry level resume is missing an element or two from a job ad is no indication you cannot get a job. You must change the rules of the game in your submission and make an entry level resume that puts the advantage in your court.

The KEY Is To Think About Alternatives

Learn about the company's needs. Too often, the entry level resume writer charges out the gate without considering her destination. It's like the old cliche, "Ready, FIRE, aim."

Johnny Horton addressed this tendency in his hilarious song, "The Battle Of New Orleans," where he talked about the soldiers not firing until they could not just see the British, but until they could "...look 'em in the eyes." It's about getting familiar enough with your target that your chances of a miss are greatly reduced.

Think about the COMPANY's needs

When you begin to prepare an entry level resume, consider the company's needs.

  • Do some basic research on the company
    • Look for a presence on the internet
    • Learn the company's mission statement
    • Learn the company's core values
    • Understand their products and services
    • Learn about their market share
    • Learn about their competition
  • Call your friends to see if they know someone who works there
    • Ask to have an informational interview to find out
      • What role does this position play in this company?
      • Is this the only position open?
      • How quickly does the company need to fill this position?
      • What are the critical needs of the company in filling this position?
      • Would the company consider an entry level employee with your assets?
      • Is there a "back door" into this company?
        • Is there another position you do qualify for that leads to promotion to the desired position?
    • Try to get the name of the supervisor who is looking to fill this position
    • Ask your friend to have his contact refer you
      • Think about whether this contact would be appropriate to hand deliver your entry level resume - a marginal employee's referral could be a kiss of death, while a senior executive could give you the key to the company.
  • Visit the company in person
    • Ask about their hiring procedures
    • Ask to shadow a worker for a few hours
    • Think about some volunteer labor to get the experience (internship, apprenticeship, etc.)
Once you have detailed information, you will know better how to tailor your entry level resume. Use the information you have gained to demonstrate how your assets meet those needs.

Think About Your Objectives

There are two aspects relevant to your objective:

  • Your Career objective
  • Your Entry Level Resume's objective statement
If you have been trying to get the ultimate career objective and are failing to do so, perhaps you need to break this goal down into achievable steps.

Sometimes workers in a field need to take alternate steps to achieve their ultimate goal.

Think about the components of your ultimate career objective. Consider applying for positions that meet some of these components, but may not be your ultimate job goal.

This strategy is about growing into the job you want, rather than trying and failing to step into that job directly.

You may want to click on Write Your Career Objective Statement which discusses resume objective statements in some detail, and shows you how to construct yours. As an entry level worker, you will find a well-written resume objective statement to be more helpful than someone who is already well positioned in a career.

Write your career objective to identify yourself as what the company seeks. Write it in terms of what you can do for the company, not what you want out of the company. Statements like, "Seeking upward mobility" are counter-productive. What the reader of your resume is thinking about is who can do the work, not who wants a cushy position in the corner office.

Think About Your Assets

Job seekers often underestimate their own worth. Spend some time considering the assets you can offer a company.

  • Work ethic. If you have a good work ethic, you need to mention this in your resume. Do not simply say that you have a good work ethic, but realistically make claims in your career objective or professional summary sections and then provide the proof in your other sections. Proof of an understanding and possession of a work ethic is an asset valued by employers.
  • Foundation and Competencies - The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills - SCANS Report, delivered to Lynn Martin, Secretary of Labor in 1991 includes the foundation and basic competencies needed for work.
    • The foundation includes:
      • Basic Skills - reading, writing, arithmetic and mathematics, speaking and listening
      • Thinking Skills - thinking creatively, making decisions, solving problems, seeing things in the mind's eye, knowing how to learn and reasoning
      • Personal Qualities - individual responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management and integrity
    • The competencies are:
      • Resources - successfully allocating time, money, materials, space and staff
      • Interpersonal Skills - working on teams, teaching others, serving customers, leading, negotiating and working well with people from culturally diverse backgrounds
      • Information - acquiring and evaluating data, organizing and maintaining files, interpreting and communicating, and using computers to process information
      • Systems - understanding social, organizational and technological systems, monitoring and correcting performance, and designing and improving systems
      • Technology - selecting equipment and tools, applying technology to specific tasks, and maintaining and troubleshooting technologies
  • Skills - You will want your entry level resume to list all of the skills you possess that apply to the position you seek.
    • Hard skills - skills that are technical and/or administrative in nature. They are procedural and can easily be structured and thus easily taught and measured.
    • Soft skills - skills that deal with interpersonal relationships and the human elements of organizations. Some claim these skills are not easily taught. That does not mean they cannot be learned and/or mastered.
    • Transferrable skills - skills that can be learned in any number of contexts and transferred to an employment context.
    • Technical skills - skills related to the operation, maintenance and/or repair of computers, equipment or machinery
  • Education - Edcuation will often be the greatest asset of an entry level resume. You can write your entry level resume so as to present the parts of your education that are most applicable to the job in the most visible portion of your resume. That usually means you will feature your education section before your experience section.
    • GPA - Your Grade Point Average can be a major asset - if it is above 3.25.
    • Major and/or Minor - You will almost ALWAYS include your major in an entry level resume. But what if you have a minor that contributes to your qualifications? Obviously, include it.
    • Internships - How has your internship history prepared you for this position? What did you learn from the internship that would give you an advantage over other entry level applicants? You will also want to consider whether listing your internship under your education section would be more advantageous than listing it under your experience section. Consider whether your internship lends more credibility because of where you did it, who supervised you or just by what you did.
    • Activities - Think about the sorts of activities you participated in while receiving your education. Were there lessons you learned or insights you gleaned that would help prepare you for the world of work in general, or this position in particular? If you are pursuing a journalism position, did you write any articles for your school paper? If you are pursuing a position as an archaeologist, have you participated in any digs? Have you worked to preserve any artifacts?
    • Club memberships - Have any of the clubs you participated in performed any service projects that may have helped you understand the job any better? Have you performed any leadership duties? Have you learned the critical importance of teamwork's contribution to a job? Be careful not to list organizations that have a controversial history, political positions or participation in activities that may be objectionable to some people.
    • Scholarships - If you do not have real world work experience, were you such an outstanding student that you earned scholarships? Be sure that if you include scholarship, assistanceships, fellowships or grants, that you do not include need based awards. The only awards that will be assets will be the ones that you earned because of your performance. Those awards speak loudly to your work ethic, and your drive to achieve. Those are valuable assets for your resume. Feature them prominently.
    • Work study - If you have worked your way through school, earning your own tuition or a significant part of it, find a creative way to mention this in your entry level resume. It speaks to your work ethic as well.
  • Experience
    • Related work experience - If you have any work experience that contributes to being proficient at any part of the requirements of this job, by all means, include it in your entry level resume. Write it into the first part of your experience section. Make it easy for the reader to find. You do not want to make an entry level resume reader play hide and seek with your most important assets. Highlight it by either the position you place it in, or by the font styling - bold.
    • Alternative experiences - If you have not worked for hire in a position that provides you experience in the aspects of this job, you may have alternative forms of experience that will help. You may have done some of the work tasks as:
      • An intern
      • A volunteer
      • An associated activity participant
      • A workday shadow participant
      • A project for a course you have taken
      • A hobbyist
  • Accomplishments - One of the most effective things you can do to convince an employer that your should be considered for a position is to demonstrate that you accomplish things, that you know how to overcome obstacles and make contributions in spite of difficulties.
    • The format your accomplishments need to take is SAC - Situation, Action, Result.
      • BRIEFLY describe the situational context that you faced.
      • Spend the most copy describing the actions you took, and then
      • Briefly describe the results.
  • Awards & Honors - your awards and honors speak to the fact that someone else has recognized your work. While some awards and honors have more gravitas than others (a Nobel Prize gives you more ethos than does a perfect attendance award for a three day conference from a defunct group), any award is a recognition of your contribution to something. Employers realize that if you have been recognized you have probably pleased someone else and performed to or exceeded their standards. That is an indicator that you may do the same in the future.
  • Endorsements - quality endorsements can be some of the most powerful copy you can include on an entry level resume. It is particularly potent if the endorser is either a well known figure, or is acquainted with the company you want to hire into.

Think About Your Resume's Presentation And Appearance

  • Proofread - you will have no second chance to make a great first impression. Your entry level resume IS you, as far as your target company is concerned. If you really want to work for this company, it would be in your best interests to present them a - flawless - document. Proofread it multiple times and in multiple ways. Begin your proofreading by looking for the content to say what you want it to say. Read every word OUT LOUD, to hear what you have written. If your resume does not say WHAT you want it to say, it can assure "you" a place in "file 13."
  • Organization - your resume needs to perform certain actions in a sequence. First, it must attract interest. If all you have is ink on paper with a name at the top, you will likely win no competition, thus, get no job. Organize your resume so that the reader can grasp the main ideas in a matter of seconds. Be sure entries from your resume are sequenced and highlighted. Place your most important information in your resume's "HOT ZONE." What is your most important information?
    • It is
      • the information the employer wants to know
      • the claims you are making that you are the best employee for this job.
      • Is this information presented with
        • appropriate titles
        • sub-titles
        • appropriate boldface
        • tabular arrangement and
        • white space?
        • The white space serves to draw the eye to the content.
    • Does your layout have a structure and flow to it? Use
      • graphic accents
      • pull quotes
      • horizontal rules
      • bulleted lists and
      • a hierarchy of headings to show the most and least important parts of this document?
    • Or, does your piece of paper look like a chimpanze was bumping his bottom on the keys?
  • Proofread - you must check your document again for
    • structure
    • flow and
    • appearance.
    • Give it to a friend and ask him/her what caught the eye first? When a stranger reads your document, can he find the detail he needs within five seconds? If not, you need to include more clues about what is where.
    • Your
      • headings
      • titles
      • sub-heads
      • graphic accents
      • pull quotes
      • bulleted lists and
      • white space
      are the elements of this map of your career.
    • Do not gratuitously include anything. Every inkspot on this document must have a purpose to survive. If there is anything on your document that has no real purpose, remove it, because anything without a purpose is a distraction. You are attempting to focus attention on your most important assets, completely resist the temptation to create any distraction.
  • Format - you will want a resume format that draws attention to your greatest assets. Obviously, for an ideal candidate with a
    • flawless work history
    • superb accomplishments and
    • a progressively responsible career track
    the reverse chronological format is best.
  • However, entry level applicants, career changers, and those with a less than perfect work history need to produce something other than the "obituary" format.
    • Your best friend may be a functional format, where the heart of your resume focuses on your accomplishments and skills rather than a chronological detail of where you were when.
    • Remember, your resume is your advertisement. It must gain the reader's attention, keep it and draw her in to the meat of your resume.
  • Proofread - yes, you read the word again - Proofread. This time check your resume to see if there would be a better format to enhance your greatest assets. Is there another way to section your data that would better organize what you need to say to an employer?
  • Pristine - if your resume has
    • a smudge
    • a stain
    • an unnecessary fold
    • a visible fingerprint
    • a blemish
    • an imperfection
    • a spot
    • a speck
    • a dot or
    • anything else that even resembles a lack of obsessive compulsive care about appearance on your part you must throw it in the trash and print a truly pristine copy.
    • If you do not, you can count on the fact that the first reader in the company you want to work for will trash it.
  • Proofread - you got it!!! After you've proofed, re-read, improved, re-proofed and re-proofed your re-proof, you need to proofread it again. Have someone who is extremely good with the English language proof it. Proof it by reading every word starting at the end of the document. Take it to an influential friend and ask for a critique, incorporate the observations if they work, and then proof it again. Why take all these pains? Because if you leave a mistake, count on the fact that it will be found and will be used against you in a resume review.

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